In over ten years of ministering to people seeking emotional and/or spiritual healing, I have found that many believers are uncertain about how to handle their negative emotions. This was true for me as well until I discovered through my own healing journey, a simple, biblical process that may help you or others you know that struggle with this issue. First, it’s important to understand that negative emotions in and of themselves are not wrong or sinful. However, the ways in which we handle them can be. Reacting wrongly usually compounds the problem that caused the negative emotions to begin with, leaving us and others even more hurt and confused.
When dealing with negative emotions, there are typically two different ways most people I’ve encountered respond. (There may be other ways that I’m unfamiliar with.) Some people tend to stuff their emotions down inside, keeping them hidden from others. Others seem to do just the opposite. When the emotion is anger, this would look like a temper tantrum, an angry outburst, or fit of rage, and these reactions could be verbal or physical, or both. Both of these methods are inappropriate and unhealthy for everyone involved.
Stuffing or suppressing negative emotions on a long term basis can lead to serious health problems. Stress, fear, and anxiety are contributing factors in many diseases, both physical and mental. We were not created to carry these painful emotions inside of us, and doing so can be just as destructive to our body, God’s temple, as eating poorly or abusing drugs or alcohol. Stuffers usually fail to properly confront other’s hurtful behavior which enables them to continue to hurt us and others; this too is unhealthy.
On the other hand, pouring out our negative feelings to others can be equally harmful to them and to our relationship with them. Lashing out at others in anger for example, can seriously damage any relationship, especially if it happens frequently, and can wound the one on the receiving end. This method of response is also wrong. So how do we handle these emotions?
The biblical and therefore best, way to deal with negative feelings is to pour them out to God. He already knows how we feel anyway, and He won’t reprimand us for feeling the way we do, as people often will. The book of Psalms is full of examples; Psalm 142 is just one of many: “I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy. I pour out before Him my complaint; before Him I tell my trouble. When my spirit grows faint within me, it is You who watch over my way. In the path where I walk people have hidden a snare for me. Look and see, there is no one at my right hand; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life. I cry to You, Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living. Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me. Set me free from my prison, that I may praise Your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of Your goodness to me.”
Taking our negative emotions to God is healthy. He can handle them and we can release them so that they don’t hurt us or others. I challenge you to try it and see for yourself!
How do you typically deal with negative feelings? You can comment below.